Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman

The task confronting the architect is to provide a scene of action that adapts itself to the play of each player impartially. It will be necessary briefly to consider how all the different classes of players are affected and to what extent their claims must inevitably influence the architect.  TOM SIMPSON


    

Monday
Aug292016

Ryder Cup Fun Sets In: Luke Donald Considered For Pick, Davis Love's Him Some Stats And Fall Golf!?

Captain's overthinking matters? Politics? And now analytics? It's always something with the Ryder Cup!

We're still weeks away but you can already catch more than not-so-faint glimmers of that two seemingly grounded, sane, level-headed captains are going to bring their share of strangeness to the 2016 proceedings.

Davis Love, in discussing his eight qualifiers through The Barclays, revealed that he's got stat-geeks looking at the numbers to justify pairings. Max Adler says it's "arguable this year’s American lineup and pairings will be the most deeply premeditated ever."

Oh joy!

“Patrick Reed suggested we pay closer attention to strokes gained tee-to-green,” Love said. In alternate-shot, for example, it could be possible to pair a player whose proximity to the hole with irons syncs with another’s putting percentages from those distances, and then overlay that data across the holes at Hazeltine National.

“Now instead of saying ‘OK, you two go play together,’ we can give players a reason they’re paired,” Love said. “We can say, ‘Hey, we ran the numbers and dissected the course and together you guys are unbeatable.’ Knowing why you’re playing with a guy can do so much to boost confidence.”

Hopefully they're bringing any of these numbers to seating assignments, the table tennis tournament or the captain's cart driving routes around Hazeltine.

Even more fun is what appears to be a disregard for the findings of the Task Force "Task Force" task force. They met after the last Ryder Cup and decided fall events should not count for points. Yet now Captain Love says he's giving weight to Justin Thomas's win last fall in Malaysia and now, he's not even believing the Ryder Cup points system validated by the Task Force "Task Force" task force.

Tim Rosaforte explains in this week's Golf World:

In this case, Love is willing to overlook the Mickelson edict of not fully counting fall tournaments in the wraparound schedule, instead giving consideration “to the big tournament he won in Malaysia.” Love also questions the analytics of how Thomas could enter the Barclays ranked just 25th in Ryder Cup points but 10th in the FedEx Cup standings.

So we're relying on analytics until we're not.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Darren Clarke was thought to have been leaning hard toward three veterans for his picks, including a surprise in Luke Donald. Ewan Murray reported that the Thomas Pieters win may have made this an impossible pick to make, and Brian Wacker has written a similar take, with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer expected to edge out possible picks Russell Knox and Soren Kjeldsen, both in the points hunt until losing out last week.

Our friends at William Hill were so thrown by the Donald news that they stopped taking bets on the captain's picks to be announced Tuesday morning (U.S. viewers can see live on Morning Drive). Joel Beall reports.

Donald finished 21st on the world points list, behind the likes of Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari, Tyrrell Hatton and all of the above mentioned names under consideration.

Sunday
Aug282016

U.S.A. Ryder Cup Chase Keeps Setting Up Playoff Drama!

We won't relive that weird finish to the Barclays today, where everyone limped home and the drunks got carried away. The PGA of America want to institute a 12th hole beer cut off there for the upcoming PGA and Ryder Cup. However, Bethpage finally got a chance to look sensational in the late light, with dry native areas and golf played in sunlight. Just hope the greens survived!

T.J. Auclair writes about the automatic qualifiers with some boilerplate quotes from Captain Love, though given recent play, many will wonder if he would have welcomed a Rickie surge on to the team in place of Zach Johnson. We'll never know.

As shellshocked as Fowler looked Sunday at Bethpage, his post-round comments suggested he's bullish on his game heading into a title defense in Boston this week. Steve DiMeglio reports for USA Today.

With Fowler's rough finish costing him a chance to make the 2016 Ryder Cup team on points, here is the final points list, which would suggest five are likely playing for four spots:

If the decision was made today, who would be your four:

Who would be your four captain's picks for Team USA?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Sunday
Aug282016

I'll Have Another! Darren Clarke's Ryder Cup Headache

Granted, this is the problem you want to have as a Ryer Cup captain. But after Thomas Pieters auditioned in front of Captain Clarke the first two rounds at the Made In Denmark, the Belgian surged to victory. Yes, it's a week after the 2016 points cut-off, but Pieters has not gone 4th-2nd-win in his last three starts, including a near-medal in the Olympic Games

Here is the points list after the cut off.

Earlier this week you all voted Kaymer as your overwhelming favorite.

But given Soren Kjeldsen's consistent play, I'm struggling to see how Kaymer rates above the Danish hope either.

Pieters is playing as well as anyone on the planet, has won the NCAA individual title while playing for Illinois, and should be a lock despite that the rookie status Captain Clarke doesn't like.

The other rookie in the mix, Russell Knox, may lose out despite a world No. 20 ranking and winning in Hartford just a few weeks ago.

Still here are the five who are most likely at the top of Clarke's list as he prepares to announce his three picks Tuesday. Who do you like?

Who would be your three captain's picks right now for Team Europe 2016?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Saturday
Aug272016

The Made In Denmark's “Himmerland Hill” Scene...

If you've been watching any of the European Tour's Made in Denmark event Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort, you know the par-3 16th hole is quickly becoming of golf's iconic tournament scenes. It's TPC Scottsdale 16 meets Riviera's 18th green, with a Masters-classy gallery and American college football card stunts.

The course was redesigned by golf course architect Philip Spogárd and has some great looking bunkers along with a special setting. It's the “Himmerland Hill” that is hard to take your eyes off of, especially when the card stunts are rolled out.

Last year, the fans displayed 500 cards for Soren Kjeldsen's 500th European Tour start.

This year they took things up a notch with a show of support for Darren Clarke, European Ryder Cup captain.

Spine-tingling. 🇪🇺🇪🇺🇪🇺 #TeamEurope

A video posted by European Tour (@europeantour) on


Clarke even pulled out his phone during the round to document the moment. That'd get him a fine on the PGA Tour! Well, unless he was a Presidents Cup captain.

Unbelievable reception from all the fans here on the 16th @MiDGolf @rydercupteameurope #thankyou #awesome #europe

A video posted by Darren Clarke (@darrenclarke60) on


Here was the scene, admittedly a tad thinned out compared to earlier in the day, when third round leaders Bradley Dredge came through:

Final round coverage airs live on Golf Channel from 6:30 am to 11 am ET.

Saturday
Aug272016

USGA, R&A Eye Rules Overhaul As Grow-The-Game Initiative!?

We've known the governing bodies have been meeting for some time to work out simplification of golf's bloated Rules book, but it's a bit disappointing see from the initial rollout that this will be branded as a grow-the-game cause.

I find that disappointing because (A) golf needs another grow-the-game initiative like another 72-hole stroke play even, and (B) the numbers of interested golfers staying away from the sport due the rules are outnumbered by those sitting out due to cost and time.

Brian Costa, writing for the Wall Street Journal, was the first to get to channel the hoped-for USGA message which is not, "we've made the rules a bloated mess and are fixing them." Instead, it's, "the rules can be intimidating to new players and we're here to change that. #growthegame"

“This is just a chance to reset,” said USGA chief executive Mike Davis. “The idea is if we get this right, many more golfers will embrace and understand the rules.”

The USGA is hoping to release a draft of the new rules for feedback from recreational players in 2017, though it could be another few years before they take effect.

John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s head of rules, competitions and equipment standards, likened it to the 1971 publication of the Living Bible, a more accessible version of the King James Bible. “I think it’s fair to say that some golfers, perhaps many, are intimidated in picking up the rule book,” Bodenhamer said. “We want to be able to help golfers with that.”

Again, I just don't think many golfers are sitting on the sidelines because of the density of the Decisions book. There are many golf fans on the fence right now about the governing bodies given the various TV rules situations. But beginners upset at the seven ways your can drop the ball as outlined in Decision 18-2? No.

There also is effort here by the USGA (in particular) to get the conversation away from their handling of situations like Dustin Johnson at Oakmont and onto an everyday game impacted by the rules. However, the USGA perception is no longer one of a body that doesn't care about the average man. Instead. it's viewed as one that is insensitive to all classes of player in the implementation of the rules. Fixing that perception will be beneficial from all of these closed door meetings with the R&A.

To understand their branding/PR issues, consider this quote from Daniel Summerhays, picked up by CBS/Golf Channel mics during Barclays round two play as Rory McIlroy thought his ball moved on the green.

 

 

At least in the minds of tour players, the USGA and R&A tried to fix the issue of balls moving on greens cut to absurdly low heights, and still didn't get it right.

Saturday
Aug272016

California Drought Has Led To More Course Closures

Jason Scott Deegan files a sobering wrap-up of closed California courses from the last few years, nearly all of which were somehow influenced by the drought to varying degrees.

Deegan writes for GolfAdvisor.com:

This summer alone, California has lost two Pete Dye designs at Lost Canyons Golf Club in Simi Valley north of Los Angeles; the nearby Mountain Course at Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Santa Clarita; Empire Lakes Golf Club, an Arnold Palmer-designed course in Rancho Cucamonga east of L.A. that hosted the Web.com Tour; and Roddy Ranch Golf Club in Antioch, a popular value play in the Bay Area.

Remarkably, to date, the Coachella Valley has remained mostly unscathed.

The Coachella Valley, which includes Palm Springs, La Quinta and other popular snowbird getaways in the SoCal desert, has fared surprisingly well considering how many courses face high water-costs. The area said goodbye in 2015 to Santa Rosa Golf Club in Palm Desert, and to Rancho Mirage Country Club.

Friday
Aug262016

Video: Jordan vs. Jairam! Two Majors Vs. Spelling Bee Co-Champ

Great work by AT&T and others to get Jairam Hathwar to The Barclay's as promised to meet his favorite athlete, and to set up a very enjoyable mini-spelling bee with Jordan Spieth.

Besides having a very nice putting stroke, Jairam reminds us it was no fluke that led to his epic showdown with Nihar Janga.

Jordan, for his part, misses one rather unbelievable word, gets thrown a very passively-aggressive one to spell, but in the end, nearly pulls off the equivalent of holing out from 200 yards on the Road hole.

Enjoy...

And a fun outtake...

Thursday
Aug252016

Casey On Ryder Cup: "Rookies aren’t what they used to be."

While it's tempting to study the FedExCup standings for deep, hidden meaning, I'd say hold off through round one of The Barclays.

In the meantime, the Ryder Cup roster dramas are far more interesting, especially on the European side where Captain Darren Clarke is thought to be leery of adding more rookies with his picks, making some wonder if Russell Knox will get passed up for a deserving Ryder Cup sport.

So Paul Casey, who is passing up the chance to play for Europe, clarifies that the rookie label is overrated these days. Given the performance of Spieth and Reed in 2014, he may be right.

From Jim McCabe's Golfweek.com report:

“Let’s face it, he would have been qualified had he been a member when he won the HSBC (Champions in China),” said Casey.

And to suggestions that adding Knox, who has never played in the Ryder Cup, to a European side that already had five rookies earn automatic berths, Casey brushed it aside.

“I don’t see Russell as a rookie,” Casey said of the 31-year-old Scotsman who has had a breakout season. “He’s been out here long enough and besides, rookies aren’t scared anymore. Rookies aren’t what they used to be.”

In the U.S.A. chase to be in the top eight after The Barclays, McCabe kindly calls it a tournament within the tournament. For Rickie, this week is all about Ryder Cup points...

“One hundred percent, all of it,” Fowler said, when asked how much of his mind is focused on making the U.S. team.

Thursday
Aug252016

Sean Connery Was A Millennial Before Millennials

Happy 86th Birthday Mr. Connery.

Those rolled up pants and the almost Jones bag are coming back in style.  Thanks for the Chris Ware image Esquire:

Happy Birthday, Sean Connery. 📷: Chris Ware

A photo posted by Esquire (@esquire) on

Thursday
Aug252016

Will Bethpage Finally Get Its Chance To Shine?

The forecast--minus a possible Friday evening disruption--looks encouraging for The Barclays at Bethpage Black. You may recall that the two U.S. Opens and one Barclays played at the rejuvenated Tillinghast course have been tainted by excessive rains and really terrible course setups.

According to John Mutch, advance man at Bethpage for the PGA Tour, the course is in superb condition and the forecast finally offers hope that we'll get to see four days of golf where the only drama is created by the players. I could do without 3 1/2 inches of rough, but hey, we don't have to play it!

Of course, there is also the FedExCup playing out. In celebrating its 10th anniversary, Brian Wacker reminds us of this momentus anniversary (players who cash in remain the only known passionate supporters). 

I still can't think of a major competition in the sports world that instills less passion or interest. But as long as FedEx wants to pony up $40 million or so a year for a non-playoff that could be oh-so-dramatic if it were an actual playoff, we at least have three fun upcoming courses to watch on TV (Black, TPC Boston, Crooked Stick).

Given the success of the Olympics and the many suggestions for intriguing Olympic formats offered over the last year, coupled with soft PGA Tour ratings of late, this year's playoffs may be in for a rough ratings ride. Perhaps the viewing public making an even stronger statement than normal about an algorithm-based competition will force changes that make this an actual playoff with actual tension.

Thursday
Aug252016

Tweaking The Olympic Golf Format: Golf Needs More Disciplines

Even if you have disdain for the Olympic golf concept or discussion of the Games at this point, the issue of what to do going forward in Tokyo 2020 is important for all to consider.

Why? Because the fallback excuse for golf not broadening its format horizons is consistently lame: 72 holes of stroke play is the most recognized format for deciding a champion. Therefore, we're stuck with it in the Olympics even though even the most casual fan can see it's not very Olympian.

Stroke play is only the most recognized because any effort to introduce new formats has been strangled, trampled and bemoaned by players, who are paid not for their creativity and vision, but to display their golf skills. Yet as the Ryder Cup reminds us every two years when played with formats that most modern players would have torpedoed in a policy board meeting, the event produces consistency entertaining spectacles.

Olympic golf offering more disciplines and team fun should be our immediate priority, while weaving in other formats beyond the Games should also become a focus of the IGF. Showing fans the many ways golf can be played beyond card-and-pencil stroke play will do more good than any grow-the-game initiative.

Doug Ferguson of the AP declared Olympic golf a success in this story, quotes Peter Dawson mentioning how the IOC doesn't want a "trial format," and then gets to a possible solution that gets team play into the 2020 games.

The Summer Youth Olympics nailed it in China two years ago, though the field size was 32 players instead of the 60 players for the men's and women's competition in Rio.

The boys and girls each played the first three days for a 54-hole individual medal. Then, they played mixed team the next three days — 18 holes of foursomes, 18 holes of fourballs, and two singles matches to reach a 72-hole score. Sweden won the gold in a playoff over South Korea, while Italy won a playoff for the bronze over Denmark.

One idea being kicked around is to stage a mixed-team event the last two days between the men's and women's competitions. That could be either fourballs and foursomes on the same (long) day, or a 54-hole event with foursomes one day, and two singles the next day. That way, every shot would count.

My colleague Jaime Diaz made a valid point: the men’s event was such a success, that this actually frees the IGF to propose a bolder format tweak to Olympic golf instead of merely trying to keep it in the Games as is.

My polling of IGF officials, players and Olympic veterans suggests the following parameters must be kept in mind:

—60 player fields will probably not change. Even though many golfers, as expected, stayed outside of the Olympic Village because they traveled with family and spouses, golf still most can’t exceed that number.

World Ranking points will likely remain for qualifying. But it sure would be fun to hear of a more creative way that introduces a "play-in" element that serves as a great way to create excitement going into the games. If team play is introduced, shouldn't players be able to pick their partners ala beach volleyball?

—Individual stroke play will remain, and it'll be 72 holes.
A 36-hole final day could be interesting, but with five hour rounds that would be a long day for players, volunteers and the course maintenance crew.

--The IOC doesn't like competitions within competitions. Therefore three days of stroke play that determines a two-person team medal, followed by a one-day stroke play event, does not work for them. Unless its gymnastics.

—The Olympic format should be recognized in some international event of significance
. Pointing to the Ryder Cup for Four-ball and Foursomes play makes our task easier. The WGC Match Play has added pool play, so that’s covered too. However, proposing rounds of less than 18 holes become an issue in this scenario.

—Mixed Events Are Big With The IOC.
I haven’t thought of a way that a mixed doubles event works outside of the one outlined above by Ferguson, but the mixed team concept appeals to many. Though it would appeal more if players could select their partners and qualify (think Martin and Gerina Piller!). Golf would need to have a mixed event added to the PGA Tour, LPGA and European Tour schedules, something that is long overdue anyway.

—One week is enough for each gender. Keeping the golfers at the Games for all two weeks would be excessive. As would too many 36-hole days. Let them go enjoy the Olympic spirit. As we saw with Rickie, Bubba and the other golfers last week, having our game’s stars interacting with the other athletes not only gave a great impression, it positively changed their perspectives.

As I discussed with
Gary Williams on Monday's Morning Drive, we have to get a two person team competition. Based on the feedback of those in Rio and in watching, I'd like to see one of two ideas considered (neither incorporates the mixed element).

--72 holes of stroke play, with the three low two-person teams awarded medals after 54 holes for best aggregate scores. Yes, some countries only send one player, but enough send two (or four) that world rankings could determine teams. Not a perfect concept and it's not introducing match play, but it's a competition that would spice up the first three days significantly.

--72 holes of stroke play, followed by two days of team match play. Award medals for individual performance and use the medal play days to whittle the match play down to the best 8 teams from the first four days. This gives players something to play for if they are out of the individual medal race. From the 8 teams qualifying,  play a four-ball or foursomes match play event over two days to determine three more medals.

Wednesday
Aug242016

Rory May Go Without An Equipment Deal For A While

With the luxury of multiple endorsement deals, Rory McIlroy is going the route many have thought a few other players with the means should go with their sticks: deal-free and play what you want.

Speaking before the Barclays, Joel Beall reports on a putter switch from Nike already, with the rest to be sorted out in time after Nike decided to end its clubmaking business.

"No reason to start changing just because I can. I'm comfortable with everything," McIlroy said. "I've got them to save me three years' worth of golf balls, so at least I've got a golf ball that I like and that I know that I can play well with.

"I'm not going to commit to anything. I wouldn't be surprised to see me not go with a manufacturer for a year or two, just sort of play with what I want to play, play with what I'm comfortable with, and go from there."

Jim McCabe reports that McIlroy was happy for the success of the Olympics and to have been proven "somewhat wrong."

Tuesday
Aug232016

The "Playoffs" Highlight Chase For...Ryder Cup Spots

The PGA Tour Playoffs are certainly captivating to accountants, caddies, wives and others with a stake in the ResetCup's bonus pool. Otherwise, the only intriguing chase this week is for a Ryder Cup team spot.

T.J. Auclair
does a nice job laying out the scenarios American players are facing as they try to make the top 8 on points. The first five are already set. Barring an upset win at Bethpage in The Barclays, it's looking six people for four spots: Holmes, Reed, Watson, Kuchar, Fowler, Furyk.

Tiger will apparently be watching, as Davis Love notes in his diary that Tiger doesn't sleep much and loves the tactician side of things. I'm not sure if this is setting Tiger up for very limited cart driving and lots of clubhouse white board work on pairings, but nonetheless, an interesting revelation.

On the European side, you all voted Russell Knox, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer on to the team.

John Huggan speaks to Knox about his sense of whether a captain's pick is coming after just missing out on points. Knox senses Clarke will be focusing on adding veterans.


“I hope the rookie thing is not enough for him not to pick me,” Knox said. “But they do seem to be making a big thing of it. I think maybe too big a thing. I look at it this way: If you put, say, Matt Fitzpatrick and I together in foursomes we’re going to be tough to beat. Against anyone. We are hitting it down the fairway 80 percent of the time. I get that he is looking at all the stats though. And it’s a tough decision to make. If he feels like he needs more experience with Graeme McDowell or Luke Donald or whoever, then fair enough.”

 

Tuesday
Aug232016

Bellwether? Reed Breaks Gavel At NYSE's Closing Bell

Is this a statement about his stroke?

The markets?

The Playoffs(C)?

Watch the after-hours trading numbers. They do not lie. (H/T Alex Myers for spotting, Will Harrelson for posting.)


Tuesday
Aug232016

Feherty: "I saw one mosquito the whole time...it was at the bar at the Hilton drinking a Jack Daniels because I don’t think it trusted the water."

Erik Matuszewski of Forbes interviews David Feherty on a host of topics, including his time in Rio in a prominent role on NBC's broadcastsand his upcoming shows.

Feherty's take on the Games:

When tennis returned to the Olympics, there was a slow buy-in from the top players, with only two of the top-10 playing in 1988. Do you anticipate more of the world’s top golfers will look at this going forward, in Tokyo in 2020 and perhaps beyond, and say this is something we should embrace?

 

“There are a couple of things that will really make the difference. Word of mouth is one and scheduling is the other. The schedule will have changed by the time they get to Tokyo. I don’t think we’ll be playing three majors and this in the space of two months. I imagine it will be spread out a little better. Between that, the FedExCup (playoffs) and the Ryder Cup coming up, it’s a really tough spell, and not physically. These are tremendous athletes and they’re young, but there’s a mental strain to play in these four-day golf tournaments and perform at your best all the time. A lot of the decision — never mind the Zika virus, that was partly an excuse, I think. Hell, I saw one mosquito the whole time I was down there and it was at the bar at the Hilton drinking a Jack Daniels because I don’t think it trusted the water. So I think the next U.S. team will be harder to make because of that.”

Feherty has Bob Costas on tonight's show at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT. Turns out, Bob was once a bookie of sorts, but the story turns in a surprising way!

 

Tuesday
Aug232016

Zach Johnson Is Irritated By The Olympics Putting A "Kink" In Golf's Major Championship Schedule

I give Rory McIlroy a bit of a pass on his only-watching-Olympic-sports-that-matter jab because (A) he at least supported Olympic golf at one time, and (B) may have been annoyed by Peter Dawson's comments the day prior. But now Rory can send Zach Johnson a big thank you note!

Why would the veteran Johnson unwisely go down the "matter" path that so scarred McIlroy and caused the lad unnecessary grief? Especially after two sensational weeks where the golfers who went to Rio reported emotions ranging from life-changing to mentioning new perspectives on their sport?

Anyway, let's let Zach dig this hole with the NY Post's Mark Cannizzaro, taking copious notes and also sharing positive views about Olympic golf from many others.

“Oh, I didn’t watch golf,’’ Johnson said. “I’d rather watch the sports that should be in the Olympics. I’d rather watch the athletes who train for four years for that one week. I’d rather watch swimming and diving, track and field — the athletes that are relevant for one week. All of our [golf] athletes are relevant 24-7, 365. I just don’t see the need for golf to be in the Olympics. Same thing with basketball. It’s relevant all the time. LeBron James, Kevin Durant? They’re relevant all the time.’’

"All of our [golf] athletes are revelant 24-7" eh?

Speaking of relevance, I'm fairly certain that Zach could have walked through the Olympic Village with his caddie wearing a name-labeled bib, the Claret Jug in hand, all while singing the Star Spangled Banner, and still would have been guessed by most as a masseuse for the USA sailing team. But go on...

Johnson said he’d rather see amateur golfers play in the Olympics if golf continues to be an Olympic sport.

“Make it a team format and give amateurs and college players, who don’t have the relevancy [pros do] a chance,” he said. “That would have been more interesting. For those guys who played, any time you can represent your country, it’s a pretty awesome endeavor. But we have so much international golf as it is. And the fact that it put a kink in our schedule this year irritates me. To mess with the four tournaments that matter most [the majors] because you’re at the Olympics, I’ve got a strong, strong disdain for that.’’

Those pesky Olympics putting kinks in schedules with their millions and millions of viewers messing with the relevancy of golf's majors.

Johnson comments speak to a level of distance from the situation that sadly reinforces the pre-Games view of grossly-out-of-touch and spoiled PGA Tour players. Perhaps he'll address his views in more depth during his pre-tournament press conference. Wait, those are for relevant golfers only, sorry.

Tuesday
Aug232016

The Politics Of Paralympics Golf

Great work by Golf News Net's Ryan Ballengee to lay out the issues involved in getting golf as a Paralympic sport.

I'm fairly certain that golf's inclusion in the Games will only be strengthened by the effort--by no means an easy one as Ballengee presents--to have a Paralympics presence. Sadly, there is no opportunity now until 2024 and the IGF did not respond to Ballengee's requests for comment. In their defense, it has been a busy few weeks.

However, para-golf lacked some key baseline organizational infrastructure that the IPC demands of any sport before it gets into the Paralympics. In para-golf's case, the sport hadn't organized a continuously-run world championship, had never published a world ranking for disabled golfers and had yet to develop a clear classification code for para-golfers to compete under in the program.

Four years later, para-golf could again bid to get into the 2020 program in Tokyo. However, no bid was even made. The International Golf Federation didn't submit a bid, according to Matsuda, claiming a lack of integration among the world's leading disabled golf associations. In other words, things had not dramatically improved in the intervening four years since the initial bid to merit going through the political process of making a bid, defending and lobbying for it, then hoping for inclusion.

Monday
Aug222016

Roundup: You Can Really Feel The Love For Olympic Golf

So moving to see so many coming around after months of moaning about golf in the Olympics.

As we get ready to not talk about it much until next fall when votes take place (and we are overcome with ResetCup fever!), I offer you an assortment of the glowing takes on the last two weeks in Rio.

Jaime Diaz in this week's Golf World:

In essence, Olympic golf has become the closest thing to the Ryder Cup: Worth it to play for free. A place—especially if it becomes, as expected, more of a team event—to deepen friendships. Something worth sacrificing for and not to be missed. Amid the distortions that come with professionalism, commercialism and politics, on the field at least, a chance for pure golf amid what aspires to be pure sport.

Linda Baker of Reuters in a piece that'll get picked up in plenty of places, declares golf a success and pushes the format-tweak narrative.

"I would like to see a two-man team. I think you should still have an individual medal, but I would like to see a team format to make things more exciting," said the United States' Stacy Lewis, who ended the women's tournament tied for fourth.

The golf industry pushed for the sport's inclusion to help boost participation, which has been slipping. Organizers were hoping that the newly built golf course designed by Gil Hanse could also help boost the game in Brazil.

For Gary Player, the legendary golfer who has been a vocal proponent of golf in the Olympics, the tournament had succeeded in cementing golf's status as an international sport. He tweeted at the conclusion of the Olympics, "Fantastic for six #golf medals going to six nations - Britain, Sweden, USA, South Korea, New Zealand & China... #growth."

I don't know about the growth part, but having a medalist from six countries is another one of those you-can't-script-it sidebars to the Rio golf experiment.

Bob Harig at ESPN.com on a post-Games narrative of athletes who contended or medaled: lots of new friends or old friends coming out of the woodwork.

"The reception globally has been astonishing,'' said Mark Steinberg, who is Rose's agent. "The reception he is receiving locally within the UK, it's astonishing to even Justin who is wearing a gold medal around his neck. He just can't believe the amount of people who are reaching out to him that maybe don't sit and watch golf on a Saturday and Sunday.

"Maybe you attribute that to the Olympic rings. Anything you want to attribute it to. It's been an astonishing appeal. It's just so great for these guys to get that type of response.''

Steinberg also represents Kuchar, and his phone has been ringing with potential endorsement possibilities for both medal winners. He also had three other players in the men's tournament.

Speaking of Kuchar, who didn't even know the format a week prior to the Games, he received a hero's welcome and is taking his bronze everywhere, writes Tim Rosaforte.

Kuchar kept it together on the Olympic Golf Course and flew home on Aug. 15 to a hero’s welcome. There were more than 100 people greeting his plane when it landed at Malcolm McKinnon Airport on St. Simons Island in Georgia. Chants of “Kooch!” and “USA, USA!” rang into the night when the Olympian appeared at the door of the plane, wearing his bronze medal.

If only Big Kooch had been around to see it, as he was when Matt won the Players Championship in 2012 and the WGC-Match Play and the Memorial in 2013. Or if he could see his great-grandsons, Cameron and Carson, show off his dad’s medal last week on St. Simons Island, whether it was going table to table at the local Starbucks or the grillroom at Frederica Golf Club.

“They got a big kick out of doing that,” Kuchar said. “They love checking it out, showing it off. I’ve pretty much kept it with me wherever I’ve gone. Most people want to see it and hold it.”

The Golf.com gang hailed all things Olympic golf, with a couple of strong points, including this from Josh Sens:

Personally, what I enjoyed most was seeing the women get an equal share of the spotlight as the men, playing on the same venue, with the same stakes. It was another reminder of how much fun the best women players are to watch. And unlike the men, pretty much all of the very best were actually there.

And this from Alan Shipnuck:

That we didn't miss any of the players who weren't there but, based on the longing in their texts and tweets, they know they missed out on something special.

Michael Bamberger wrote about the women's game getting a profile raise, even if weather wiped out chances of an even larger audience on network coverage.

I couldn't tell you what the man's level of interest in women's golf was before the Olympics. Whatever it was, now it's deeper.

Teddy Greenstein reviewed his Rio stay and highlighted the various sports covered for the Chicago Tribune, including this from golf's fourth place finisher:

Of all the wisdom dispensed over the last 17 days, my favorite came from a fellow Olympic newbie: Thomas Pieters, a Belgium golfer who played at Illinois.

Pieters described radios going off and cameras clicking during his backswing but shrugged off all the distractions, saying: "You deal with it. It's the Olympics. It's special."

Steve DiMeglio interviewed the IGF's Ty Votaw, instrumental figure in the entire Olympic golf pursuit and execution, who continues to credit players and caddies for their effort. But the crowds, which could have been disastrously small in Rio given attendance at some venues, brought an intangible element to both final rounds that should not be discounted.

Q: What stood out in Rio?

A: “The reception of the crowds for both the men’s and the women’s competitions. And the way the men and women embraced the Olympic experience. It was phenomenal to see their interaction with other athletes, their experiences in the Olympic Village, and how they responded to the crowds and the crowds responded to them, in a country that doesn’t have a lot of golf history.”

What also stood out? The ticket price was kept absurdly low, something golf tournaments looking for energy should keep in mind more often.

Iain Payten of the Daily Telegraph covers all things Rio with Australian team leader Ian Baker-Finch, whose most famous golfers (Day, Scott, Leishman) passed on Rio. He would would like to see a format tweak either way based on his three weeks in Rio.

Changing the format will help too, believes Baker-Finch. Instead of individual strokeplay, an element of a teams format will be attractive to athletes who play for themselves every week.

“I hoped all the way through the process that they’d go to the World Cup format of a singles and a doubles,” he said.

“I think you’d have had a stronger representation in the mens had theire been a two - man team. So still 72 holes but let’s have a singles and have a team, let’s add up the two scores.”

Payten's piece also includes this:

US RATINGS FOR GOLF MAJORS v OLYMPICS
Masters final round – 12.4 million
Olympic final round – 8.8 million
US Open final round – 5.4 million
PGA Championship final round – 5.3 million
British Open final round – 4.9 million

Monday
Aug222016

WaPo On Extreme Trump Golf Course Valuations

Thanks to reader Scott for sending Drew Harwell's Washington Post look at the ultra-low valuations Donald Trump's lawyers give for his properties in court, as compared to his election disclosure forms.

The differences are staggering but defended by Trump's lawyer this way:

In rural Iredell County, N.C., for instance, Trump’s lawyers have argued successfully to shrink the taxable value of his course there since he bought it in 2013. The $167,000 annual reduction in revenue to the county is a “pretty big chunk,” said Wes Long, an appraiser there, adding that the money comes from “whatever taxable money goes toward: salaries, raises, roads, schools, police.”

Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s executive vice president and general counsel, defended Trump’s tax disputes as a legal, prudent way of doing business and saving cash. The higher values listed on the federal form reflects the unique merit of the Trump brand, he added, which can boost the courses’ sales value in a way that won’t be reflected on local tax rolls.

“When you’re talking about properties that are owned by Mr. Trump, there is an intrinsic value associated with those properties because he is associated or owns those properties,” Garten said. “There’s never been anyone like Mr. Trump, with his net worth, to run for the highest office in the land.”

No one will argue with that last point!

Monday
Aug222016

Columnist Says Oakland Hills Will Get Another U.S. Open

Carlos Monarrez says he doesn't know for certain, but from speaking to folks at the U.S. Amateur last week, he's confident "that our national championship will return to Oakland Hills for the first time since 1996."

The U.S. Amateur looked spectacular on TV if crowd size and conditioning were a barometer. However with 2027 the earliest open date and the club having vetoed a restoration plan that would have bolstered its chances, a U.S. Women's Open or a PGA seems more likely.

Monarrez writes about general chairman Lee Juett's response from the USGA:

Last month, Juett said the club had extended an invitation to the USGA to host its seventh U.S. Open. During the tournament, Juett and club leaders met with USGA executives to further that process, which included strengthening those relationships. And it yielded something else: an understanding that Oakland Hills would love to host another USGA championship while it waits for a U.S. Open.

This brings me to my next prediction. Oakland Hills also will host a U.S. Women’s Open. The next available date is 2022, and it makes perfect sense.